With a dual meet win and a strong performance at the Trinity Invite, the Central wrestling team is showing some good signs in the early going.
The Raiders traveled to Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted (HLWW) for their first dual meet of the season on Friday, Dec. 7 and defeated the Lakers 48-23, then took fourth place out of 12 teams at Trinity the following day.
“I’ve been happy with the way we’ve wrestled so far,” said Raiders head coach Darrin Fox. “I’m cautiously optimistic at this point. We’ve had two good weeks, but the competition is going to get a little stiffer this week. If we can have a couple of good matches going into Christmas I think we can feel good about ourselves, we can look at our lineup a little bit, hopefully fill it up, and hit our stride about mid-January.”
Central 48, HLWW 23
Zeke Dodge (106), an eighth grader, started the dual against HLWW with an exclamation point, pinning a sophomore in the second round to put Central up 6-0.
Josh Hendel (113) followed up that win with a 6-4 decision, the Raiders accepted a pair of forfeits, and then freshman Davis Colley stunned the Lakers with a win over one of their best wrestlers, a senior at 132 pounds.
The wins from Dodge and Colley were a pair of upsets, according to Fox, that helped set the tone for the Raiders during the match.
Bennett Hatterschide continued the blitz for Central with a pin at 138 pounds to give the Raiders a commanding 30-0 lead before the Lakers finally responded with a major decision at 145 pounds.
Grant Mueller quickly blunted any momentum the Lakers might have gained from that win with a second-round pin at 152 pounds, though the Lakers did pick up a few wins in the upper weights. Central’s remaining points came on forfeits.
“I think we were really good against Howard Lake,” said Fox. “The matches we figured we could win we mostly did win. For the most part I think we came in there and did what we wanted to do. We had opportunities where we probably could have scored more points in a few matches, but overall we did some good things and were offensive, which I was looking for. We did our job there. Hopefully that’s a sign of some things to come from our younger guys, and our seniors were good leaders that night and wrestled really hard.”
The following day’s action at the Trinity tournament also provided plenty of reasons for optimism, as the Raiders took fourth place out of 12 teams and nine out of 11 individuals earned a place.
Fox noted that four members of Central’s lineup that day were freshman, and a number of other varsity regulars had the day off in order to give some less experienced wrestlers a chance at the varsity level. The team also showed resilience after one bad round that could have dropped Central as low as eighth place, but the team fought back to climb the standings in the ensuing rounds.
Mueller provided the highlight of the day, winning the individual championship at 152 pounds and also picking up his 60th career victory.
“He was really solid. He’s started to hit his stride,” said Fox. “He’s been a real bright spot so far this year to start out. He’s already 6-1 or 7-1.”
The Raiders also had a number of third place finishers, including Hendel at 113 pounds, who also picked up his 60th career victory during the tournament. Ben Barth was a surprise at 106 pounds, taking third place.
“It was great to see him get some varsity matches, and he got after it pretty well,” said Fox.
Jordan Kohls (182) took fourth place during the tournament, and Fox was pleased with his performance.
“He had a really good day overall. He wrestled hard and got a couple of wins under his belt,” said Fox. “He’s a second year kid, so he just needs some more time and we’ll be patient with him. He’s still learning the sport, but at the same time he’s getting some things down that he’s comfortable with and getting good at.”
Matt Ditsch (195) and Steeven Smith (220) also took fourth place in their respective weights, with Ditsch losing to the No. 1 seed in his division and Smith picking up his first varsity victories.
Jared Wickenhauser took fifth place at 145 pounds, and Hatterschide, a freshman, took sixth at 132 pounds after beating a senior in his first match.
Colley was performing well in what Fox called the toughest bracket in the tournament at 126 pounds until an injury ended his day, and Alex Meeker and Caleb Wickenhauser also picked up valuable experience but did not place.
“All in all it was a great weekend. I was pretty happy with it,” said Fox. “I just hope we can get more consistent from round to round instead of having ups and downs.”